The Cuban government opened the island’s northern and southern cays to tourism Wednesday amid strong measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the country to shut down travel in late March.
Cuba, which according to official figures has had 2,348 cases of COVID-19 and has had 86 deaths, is seeking to attract international tourists to the island’s many cays.
Tourists will undergo a rapid PCR test upon arrival to identify possible infections and will not be able to visit the big island itself. Cuban nationals are prohibited from having contact with foreigners and from staying in hotels equipped for international tourism, the official press reported.
As el Nuevo Herald had previously reported, Cuba will take advantage of its medical personnel to sell health tourism packages and trips to recover from COVID-19.
Cuban-Americans will not be able to travel to visit their relatives until the island is fully open to tourism. The government has not announced dates for a full opening.
Tourism Minister Juan Carlos García said that foreigners will be able to rent cars and excursions in the Largo, Coco, Guillermo, Cruz, and Santa María cays.
Workers in the areas open to international tourism must comply with strict epidemiological surveillance measures, including quarantine, before returning to their homes. In hotels, tourists will be subject to temperature checks, and rooms will be constantly cleaned to avoid spreading the virus, García said.
The coronavirus pandemic dealt a severe blow to the already impoverished Cuban economy. According to official data, between January and April this year there was a 49 percent drop in tourism revenue compared to the same period in 2019, with 945,376 fewer visitors.
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